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Dr. Cooper's 8 Healthy Steps

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Get Cooperized™. It’s a phrase you may have seen and heard by now. So, where did we come up with this tagline and what does it mean? We’re so glad you asked.

As you may know, Dr. Cooper coined a word in 1968 that he used to describe a new exercise program to improve heart health. Little did he know that he would spark a global fitness revolution! That word was aerobics.

More than 50 years later, we are at it again, but this time coining the phrase Get Cooperized. It is the heart of our mission. It’s the sum of our seven entities. And it’s a set of eight general guidelines to achieve and maintain good health. Each one can be and should be customized to fit you—your body, your health, your interests, your life.

Exercise most days of the week. This health guideline is how Cooper got started. It’s our claim to fame. Drum roll, please…Participate in moderate physical activity a collective 30 minutes a day, five days a week. That’s it. Now let’s break it down:

“Moderate physical activity” – Moderate intensity should get your heart rate elevated to where you can talk but you’re winded. There are many types of cardiovascular exercise: taking a brisk walk or jogging, kicking the soccer ball with the kids, playing a game of touch football, swimming laps, jump roping, hopping on an elliptical machine. Whatever you choose, just get moving!

“A collective 30 minutes a day” – Here’s the good news. You don’t have to exercise for 30 minutes straight if your schedule doesn’t work or those bad knees won’t last. You can do three spurts of activity for 10 minutes each or break it into two, 15-minute intervals. It all adds up and it all counts! And a total of 30 minutes is realistic amount of time to fit into your schedule. Put it on your calendar like it’s an appointment and stick to it.

“Five days a week.” – This is important because if you do 30 minutes of moderately intense cardio over five days you will have logged 150 minutes of exercise. This is the magic number to reap the benefits of heart health, prevent diabetes, cancer and other diseases and improve quality and quantity of life.

For exercise guidance from our professional fitness trainers, check out our Fitness Files articles or watch our Exercise Move videos. Of course, if you want to work directly with one of our trainers or sport professionals, visit Cooper Fitness Center.

Make healthy food choices most of the time. We like to say it’s about moderation, not deprivation. Or eat healthy 80% of the time and have that cookie the other 20% of the time.

That may be a big bite to swallow, so what’s the first step to build healthy nutrition habits? We’d say eat more fruits and vegetables daily. There is an adage, “Five is fine, but nine is divine.” That’s talking about servings (one serving is half a cup) of fruits and veggies to consume every day. If you’re not getting five servings in a day, start there, then work your way to nine.

Research shows by doing this, you can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and are at a lower risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis and kidney stones.

Check out the Nutrition Bites section for informative articles by our registered dietitian nutritionists on a host of topics. We also offer some of our favorite healthy recipes. But if you need individualized, expert advice, learn more with Cooper Clinic Nutrition.

Maintain a healthy weight. One method to determine if you’re at a healthy weight is to measure your Body Mass Index or BMI. You can determine your BMI by following this calculation:

Formula for calculating Body Mass Index (BMI)

You are considered normal weight if your BMI is 18.5-24.9, overweight at 25-29.9 and obese if it’s 30 or higher. However, BMI may be inaccurate if you are highly muscular; you may have a high BMI but still have very little fat. In that case, measurement of body fat by calipers, underwater weighing or the latest DEXA technology (used at Cooper Clinic) is more accurate.

In addition, if you have a lot of visceral fat, the worst type of fat which usually accounts for the "pot belly," your waist circumference is the best measurement. Men's waist measurement should be less than 40 inches and women's less than 35 inches.

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to prevent illness and disease, enjoy a higher quality of life and live longer. We know it takes a combination of good nutrition and consistent exercise to do this. Read some of our health tips on weight loss, and follow the Get Cooperized guidelines above on eating healthy most of the time and exercising most days of the week.

Take the right supplements for you. Supplements are just that, they are supplements and not replacements. You have to start with a good, balanced diet and vitamins and supplements can help bridge the gaps to achieve optimal overall health.

No matter how hard we try, most people are not getting the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals their body needs through diet alone. Generally, we just don’t eat very well. Less than a third of Americans are getting at least five servings of fruits or vegetables a day. Our diets are incomplete. That’s why we created Cooper Complete® nutritional supplements.

So start with a good multivitamin that is taken with meals. This will cover a lot of your basic supplement needs.

Then get your blood levels checked to understand if you are deficient and need additional supplementation. Research shows the majority of people are vitamin D deficient, which has been linked to diseases such as hypertension, depression, diabetes, certain cancers and arthritis, to name a few. Studies have also shown benefits of omega-3 in blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, metabolic syndrome and cognitive health.

Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, launched Cooper Complete in 1997, working with a team of physicians and scientists from leading universities to develop a line of vitamins and supplements that deliver the appropriate amount of nutrients needed for optimal health. No matter what brand you choose, make sure your vitamins and supplements are pure and potent.

Visit our Vitamin Aisle section for the latest research and recommendations on supplementation. You can purchase our vitamins on our website,

Get a regular, comprehensive physical exam. Our philosophy is simple: It’s easier to maintain good health than to regain it once it's lost. The only way you can improve your health is if you have a comprehensive, in-depth picture of the current state of your health. And that starts with a preventive physical exam.

At a minimum you should “know your numbers.” These are your laboratory results from your blood work, and they contain vital information for your health. To start, make sure you know your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.

At Cooper Clinic, we look at the whole person including lifestyle and health behaviors to inform and direct medical care.

Our physical exams are unlike any other. Completely customized based on your needs, all tests are onsite, giving you same-day results. Patients also receive an in-depth consultation with their physician—up to one hour—to go through any questions and develop an action plan.

We recommend a baseline comprehensive physical exam between the ages of 35 and 40. Between ages 40 and 50, you should receive an exam every 12-18 months depending on risk and ongoing health or behavior issues. Annual exams should begin at age 50.

Many medical issues are completely preventive. Our physicians offer free health tips in our Prevention Plus section. If you’d like to schedule an appointment at Cooper Clinic, complete our online appointment request form or call 866.906.2667 (COOP).

Manage stress and prioritize sleep. We all get “stressed out” at some point. It’s part of life. Yet you may not realize how dangerous it can be to your health—both physically and emotionally.

Stress can raise blood pressure and resting heart rate and lead to weight gain. Stress leads to anxiety and worrying which may impair your ability to fall or stay asleep. On the other hand, not getting an adequate quantity and quality of sleep certainly raises stress levels. If stress and sleep problems go untreated long-term, they can cause physical and mental health problems. As Dr. Cooper says, "it’s not stress that kills, it’s the way you handle it."

We spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping, so it’s important to prioritize and protect it at all stages of life. Most adults need 7-8 hours daily. Develop a bedtime routine and get on a schedule of going to bed and getting up at the same time daily. Be sure caffeine and alcohol intake aren’t interfering with your sleep. Read more about sleep health.

Exercise is an effective way to manage stress. Physical activity reduces stress and improves health in so many different ways. It can boost the mood, improve energy and significantly improve both quality and quantity of sleep. In fact, a study by The Cooper Institute showed that doses of physical activity were as effective as taking prescription drugs for mild to moderate depression.

Taking time to de-stress and relax is not a luxury! It’s important to find something that works for you, and helps you balance your life. Take a deep breath and say, “ahhh.” If you’re in the DFW area, visit Cooper Spa for a therapeutic, relaxing massage.

Do not use tobacco. We all know smoking is “bad” for you, and a leading cause of lung cancer. But all tobacco products, not just cigarettes, can threaten your health.

Tobacco is associated with a number of different types of cancers, including esophageal, cervical, stomach, kidney, pancreatic and more. On top of that, tobacco is the number one treatable cause of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in America.

We strongly recommend not using any form of tobacco. Research shows if you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, you have a 20-fold increased risk of developing lung cancer. And it doubles the risk for heart attacks compared to a nonsmoker.

People tend to think smoking simply shortens your lifespan—that you may die a few years earlier due to your habit. But the bigger problem is the 10 to 15 years before death where you suffer the terrible health effects of smoking—dealing with cancer or lugging around an oxygen tank to help you breathe.

It’s never too late to quit using tobacco. And the sooner you quit, the better your long-term prognosis. If you’re looking for support to help quit smoking, this list of organizations and resources may help.

Control alcohol. This one is always a mixed bag. There are both benefits and drawbacks to consider when it comes to alcohol.

Among other things, excessive alcohol can cause weight gain, damage your liver and your heart and increase the risk of developing some types of cancer. Yet for some people, moderate alcohol intake may also have a benefit for the heart.

If you sum up the benefits of other healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercising, alcohol consumption as a health benefit would be considered minor. Dr. Cooper always says, if you don’t drink, don’t start. There is no research to say that you should.

But if you do enjoy alcohol, moderation is key. Men and women should have no more than one drink per day and keep in mind portion size. One drink is the equivalent of a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor, which has approximately 15 grams of alcohol.

Read this Prevention Plus article about the effects of alcohol on your health.